Everything You Do Affects You
Good japa does not exist in a vacuum. What you do in the day is reflected in your japa. A more Kṛṣṇa conscious lifestyle naturally lends itself to better japa. So the more important japa is in your life, the more concerned you will become about doing things throughout the day that will nourish your chanting. If you allow yourself to do things that undermine the quality of your japa, it is likely a sign that you are not giving your japa the attention or priority it requires.
Be more conscious of how your daily activities affect your japa. For example, before you decide to stay up late at night, minimize your sadhana to a project done, or take on more service or new and more demanding job, reflect on how these decisions will affect your rounds. Another common lifestyle obstacle to good japa is rising early. If this is a challenge for you, organizing your life in a way that you can rise early will prove to be one of the best things you can do to improve your japa.
Living our lives in a way that fosters good rounds is a science. If you allow your life to be predominated by the modes of passion and ignorance, your mind will tend to me more disturbed and distracted when you chant. You will be competing with the passion and ignorance of the previous day in your attempt to focus. (Can you relate to this?) When this happens, it can take many rounds to clear those modes away. Thus, it may take you eight rounds just to calm your mind down enough to hear your rounds. Ideally, we should be hearing our rounds well from the very first bead.
This is most desirable. And it is possible.
Many devotees relate how reading the pastimes of the Lord helps their japa because they naturally think of the Lord’s pastimes while chanting. One devotee tells how his japa is always good when he has introduced people to the maha-mantra the day before. Other devotees relate how their japa is always more relishable after an especially ecstatic day of devotional service (brought about by overcoming a difficult situation, accomplishing something special, doing more austerities than usual, etc.).
The reality is that everything we do, see, speak, and hear affects our consciousness and thus will subtly or grossly support or undermine our japa. Applying techniques to improve our japa is important; but it is not the entire equation. What we do the in the other 22 hours of our day influences us, and thus our chanting, to one degree or another.
List some activities that you feel are detrimental to your japa and what you might do to overcome them. Also, list some things you can during your day that would positively impact your japa.